Monday, 7 September 2009

Nature Study

By Per Kirkeby (1979)

The nature study is pebbles small twigs fragments of glass
like rocks trees water
Which the material scratches and tears
pure chaos
always takes on form
And surprises the painter
when he wakes up
Form is an accident
The material must be touched
even with long brushes
and evaporating turpentine

So what is the teacher to tell
of things great and small
All rock stone water
must be suppressed by the colour’s light
Form is chaos
Chance must be absorbed into the material
Clay that takes on form
which the wakening painter sees
Figures grow from the colour’s light

Light shadow
cold warmth
If colours have nature
material is landscapes

When colours displace shadows
the great repoussoirs become light
and the sky the cave’s ceiling
Landscapes with snakes
The colour is The Historical Landscape
Glowing foliage
broken rocky ground
the dying figure lies
in the depth and darkness of doubt
a shape is sensed

The movement of The Historical Landscape
The light changes with the material’s colour
shapes come and go
no proportions no harmony
the perspective burns
Colour and light are chaos
in the mechanical world
The landscape of disaster
A lonely wanderer
The panoramas of the battlefields
This landscape creates heroic colours
Unfamiliar emotions
overwhelm the wanderer
The painter is a great reptile
landscapes marblings
figures stains

Groups of figures like the fingers of a hand
heads like blisters
The holy inkblot
The great concentration
The great strokes
move hand and brush
breed accidental blots
The Landscape of Disaster
Thought is chaos
a dreaming wanderer
never a blotting swine
Make the most of chance
Use all the tricks
Cakes of paint

One note holds everything in place
White breaks the perspective
The great glaciers
The white corpse

The chalk cliffs
The Landscape of Disaster
The Serpent Line
Whipsnakes dangle everywhere
protection is impossible
Like walking on water

The idea of light
is the mouth of the cave
The vaults of the great churches
an infinite series
The frozen water
filled with seagulls
A cave in the chalk cliffs
with its dark mouth

Walking on the ice
The wonderful fog of the northerly regions
The great brushstroke
over all details
wipes the tablet clean
for infinite clarity

Shadows Chiaroscuro Repoussoir
are overtaken by the colour’s light
mass has turned into material
The material is the true details
Shadows chiaroscuro repoussoir
the material’s ghosts
which are stiffening
the arrangement the scenery the Cave
The Forest Tunnel

Pebbles twigs glass splinters
Paintbrush finger knife

The landscape eclipses the figures
turns into
Foliage the cave’s light
Figures vanish in the doubtful darkness

The angel in a pool of blood
or tropical soil
The great torment
in every region
one colour must go
so that the others can live
Stand tied to the mast
while the storm breaks up the frozen sea
An eternal transition
The Metamorphosis
Time is the great brushstroke
the jutting brush hairs
details of the illusion
Time’s Gothic forebodings
The ship sails between the ice-fields of the cave
Forms rise from chaos
are transformed in chaos
Everything is remembered

translated from Danish by David McDuff